Every fall, the monarch butterfly takes a long journey from North America to Mexico. They help paint the cities orange alongside their beautiful Marigold cousins which symbolize the brevity of life. They are the national symbol of Dia de Muertos.
Jalisco, Guadalajara (GDL) is the city I found myself in at the beginning of November. A city full of culture, food, and community. Around this time, there’s a special feeling in the air. A feeling of love, remembrance and warmth that is hard to explain with just words alone.
Before I left, I picked up some Marigolds from a local flower shop in Oakland called, “Lee’s Discount Flowers” and placed them on top of my altar. As soon as I landed in Guadalajara, I noticed Marigold’s were planted almost everywhere I stepped. Seeing them reminded me of how guided and protected I am. Experiencing Dia de Muertos, allowed me to cultivate an even deeper relationship with my ancestors.
The culture in Jalisco is to wake up around 9 a.m. and have some chilaquiles for breakfast, go get some lunch at the free “MUSA” museum, and then take a walk downtown and grab a street tamale for less than a dollar before dinner. To me, that’s the ideal day in GDL. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the city and the kindness of the people. It’s basically abnormal not to greet people when you’re walking on the street – especially if they are elders. Three simple greetings that will take you very far in GDL are: “buenos dias, buenos tardes, and buenos noches.”
One of my favorite experiences while I was in GDL, was going to the Mariposario en Parque Agua Azul. This park is a massive home for birds and insects in need of preservation and rehabilitation. When I was learning about butterflies in the Mariposario, I learned that Monarch butterflies live for about 2-6 weeks on average and during that time, they fly from GDL all the way to Canada and back. Although they have a short life span, Monarchs have the longest migration trajectory of any insect. The most beautiful aspect of this to me though, is that when they finish their journey – they also complete their life cycle.
The butterflies in Jalisco to me, are reflective of the ancestral journey. The most special photo I have now is the one of me standing in between Monarch wings. Speaking of that, Calaverandia was one of the most immersive festivals I have ever been to. I was able to watch a 4D show that told the story of life and afterlife. It touched me in a way that I can’t even describe with words. The best way I can describe it was that I felt like I was literally in the movie Coco.
Here’s a short video that features parts of the festival:
Overall, this was one of the best trips I’ve ever went on. There were some minor slip-ups here and there like our airbnb being dirty and us switching to a hotel (which was lovely and called, “Meson Ejecutivo“) but everything worked out. I really enjoyed being in city where the primary language was not english. I learned a lot about how much body language matters and how to immerse myself within culture. I felt right at home and I’ll definitely be visiting again.
P.S. if you ever decide to visit, here’s a list of some of my favorite places:
📍Pulqueria: La Ultima Lucha
Pulque is an ancient fermented drink made from agave juice
📍El Abajeño Minerva, comida!
📍Bruna, fine dining & art gallery immersive experience
📍Ahogadas Beto, the regional sandwich of GDL
📍Sin Fin, cute boutique gay bar that has drag shows
Your Angel Ash 💌